October can make or break players, and this past year, it broke Detroit Tigers closer Jose Valverde.
Valverde has been a dependable, and at times exceptional, closer throughout his career. He recorded 35 saves in 2012 with a 3.78 ERA. It wasn't a steep drop-off, but a decline nonetheless from 2011, when Valverde was perfect in save opportunities.
Although he had blown five saves during the season, there was plenty of reason to expect Valverde to have a good postseason, especially considering it was his final audition before free agency. Instead, the playoffs were an unmitigated disaster.
Valverde made four appearances, allowing nine earned runs in 2.2 innings pitched.
It didn't take long for Tigers management to announce that he wouldn't return in 2013. As a result, Detroit has a significant hole to fill in its bullpen.
The team may be looking to the 22-year-old Bruce Rondon to be closer. He's never pitched higher than Triple-A, so it's unlikely that the reigning American League champions will let such an inexperienced player take over such a pivotal position.
There are plenty of veteran options at closer who can act as a stopgap before Rondon can take over. Rafael Soriano might be a little too pricey with the long-term option waiting in the wings.
Here are five much cheaper options the Tigers could pursue this offseason.